$322,094 in Back Wages and Penalties for Violations of the H-1B Visa Program

Friday, April 10, 2015

The owner of two East Rutherford, New Jersey, companies will pay $322,094 in back wages and penalties after U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigators found the companies willfully violated a provision of the H-1B visa program, which allows guest workers to be temporarily employed in the United States.

Investigators from the division's Northern New Jersey District Office determined that Sung Ki Min, corporate officer and owner of Amazing Apple Inc., an accessory importer doing business as Blue Bell, and Space Age Inc., a scarf importer doing business as Barrington Scarves, failed to pay five H-1B visa workers the wage rate required in the labor condition application. The application has specific requirements for employing these workers. Amazing Apple Inc. will pay $254,753 in back wages to three workers employed in the human resources department and as art directors. Space Age Inc. will pay $54,841 in back wages to two employees working in the customer service, purchasing and communications.

The willful nature of the violation bars the companies from participating in the H-1B program for two years and cost them $12,500 in penalties. In addition, the employer cannot participate in any visa or immigration program that requires labor certification for two years. Violations are considered willful when an employer knew or acted in reckless disregard for whether its actions were impermissible. 

The H-1B visa program permits employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in professional occupations such as computer programmers, engineers, physicians and teachers. H-1B workers must be paid the same wage rates paid to U.S. workers who perform the same types of work or the prevailing wage rate in the areas of intended employment, whichever is higher.

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